The life of a digital nomad is unwaveringly unpredictable and therein lies the magic. But with curveballs coming at you from every corner, you need reliable and practical tools to assist you in the parts of your life that you can control. Once you graduate from nomad school, you are not handed a copy of What To Pack for Dummies, and you are left to your own devices. Or you can learn from the mistakes of your fore-travelers and be ready for action when you set out on your travels.
Best Luggage as a Digital Nomad
When arriving in Vietnam on my first leg, I thought I was looking mighty grand with my 20-pound GUESS branded suitcase and nearly 100-pounds of luggage. I quickly learned that labels only get you so far. I had to toss my coffin on wheels and opt for a more practical option. I am still in search of the perfect backpack but I have realized that HOW you pack your bag is of equal importance. Enter, packing cubes. They are the Marie Kondo of traveling. These zippy little friends compress and organize all your clothes in a flash. You can opt for an expensive brand that is most likely made from durable material with sturdy zippers or you can buy a cheap set from Amazon or Lazada. Either way, the cubes make living from a suitcase a breeze and limits the amount of packing you do. If it does not fit in the cube, it does not go on the trip. Very simple. Make sure to get a large enough set with mesh coverings so you can see what is happening inside each cube.
Vacuum Storage Bags:
When the day arrives that you do need to pack up everything and the kitchen sink, vacuum seal bags are a must. Most sets come with a hand pump that is efficient and lightweight. These bags are one of the few small miracles that infomercials have bestowed upon the world. You can half the size of your load (unfortunately not the weight) and fit everything into a more manageable size suitcase.
Suggestion: Get a fanny pack. They worked in the 80s and sure as hell work now. I swore high and low I would never revert to them but here we are. Nothing screams efficiency like having your phone, passport, and boarding pass strapped to your belly, all while raising a glass to the best decade of them all.
Best Laptop for Digital Nomads
MacBook Pro 15-inch:
A tale as old as time, the nomad and the MacBook. A love story for the ages. In every way, the MacBook is more expensive and high risk to carry around, but the payoff is undoubtedly worth it. I opted for the bulkier MacBook Pro 15-inch which is quite heavy compared to the Air models. Retina Display, 16GB RAM, and a quad-core processor have served me well. Photo and video editing are effortless and Apple’s inter-device syncing makes my life on the road all the more organized and user friendly.
Best Camera for Traveling
Canon 6D Camera
My travel companions know to move on without me as I am forever stopping to take pictures of the bizarre and wonderful things that come across my path. I am a Canon purist and I have been dreaming of a 5D ever since I was a little photographer. When my day came to invest in a new camera, I changed my mind at the last second and opted for its little brother, the 6D. At its price point, I get impeccable images and built-in Wi-Fi that sends the images straight to my phone (and I still have some change left to buy another plane ticket!). The camera is somewhat lighter than others in Canon’s pro ranges and offers an HDR shooting mode that brings your photos to life.
PS: Don’t neglect the small things. SD cards are ridiculously fragile and impossible to find when you need them. I got a weatherproof, shockproof casing to store multiple cards safely.
Clothes for Digital Nomads
How do the girls on Instagram look THAT good? The simple answer is, they don’t. Time after time I arrive at attractions to find clothing rental stores where “influencers” can indulge in all kinds of dramatic or thematic clothes to make their gram pop. I too have come a far way from my fashionista ways and these days you only find me in black on black on more-black. With a few exceptions. A sturdy Levi’s denim jacket is the first thing I pack. It has carried me through freezing motorbike rides and scorching days in the desert. It transforms any athleisure looks into pseudo-rocker chic in an instant.
Shoes are my Achilles heel. My first travel bag consisted of 9 pairs of shoes, exactly 6 to many. First on your list should be 1 pair of Havaiana flip flops. This should last you 3-4 years. Next a pair of walking shoes. I wear Nike Airs but I recently acquired Colombia hiking boots that will come out on high days and holidays. Lastly, I allow myself one pair of out on the town shoes. I am a sneaker girl through and through so Supergas are near to my heart as they come in ultra-chic colors and designs. The shoes age well and are very comfortable, even for flat footers like me.
Working remotely and actually traveling have very different demands. Each of which you learn to meet as you go along. When working remotely you opt for a few more comfort items but when traveling you get back to basics. Shampoo bars are a space-saving and eco-friendly way to keep your locks looking luscious. It also eliminates any risk of getting any nasty liquid spills inside your luggage.
Another space-saving idea is to keep a “packable daypack” on hand. These little backpacks are usually made of cotton or durable nylon and can fold up into a pocket-sized pouch. When you head out for a hike or even a night away you can quickly whip out the bag and be ready to go.